Blog Symposium

An Illegal Republic: the Challenges of the Formation and Proliferation of the Legal Identity of Karabakh Armenians

At the end of the 1980s, the Soviet Union was in turmoil. One problematic instance of the overall crisis was the conflict breaking out between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO). NKAO was an enclave populated predominantly by ethnic Armenians within the territory of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (AzSSR). Its administration, …

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On Becoming Citizens of the “Non-Existent”: Document Production and Migration in Abkhazia

Layla, a young girl from Damascus, attended both the adult and children’s Russian classes that the Danish Refugee Council offered Syrian-Circassian newcomers to Abkhazia in 2014-2015. One afternoon after class, I walked with her halfway to her new home up the hill tops as she told me her struggles about living in Abkhazia for the …

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Unrecognised Documents and the Right to Nationality: The Case of Western Sahara

Since 1976, after the end of Spanish colonial domination, Western Sahara has been considered a non-self-governing territory. The legal status of the territory remains disputed with Morocco occupying a part of the territory and the Polisario Front, a national liberation movement, exercising control over the remaining part. Sahrawis live in the occupied territory, in the territory under the …

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Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s Projection of Legitimacy through Identity Documents

As insurgencies and armed groups develop during civil wars, they often take on functions vacated by central governments. Over the course of more than a decade of civil war, power in Syria has fragmented. Various statelets claim control of their respective areas, attempting to administer and rule them and claiming the responsibilities of being a …

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Legal Identity in Limbo: Civil Documentation and De Facto Authorities in Northwest Syria

The consequences of displacement in Syria are becoming increasingly multi-generational, particularly in relation to legal identity, as more children are born into families with lost, damaged or destroyed documents or to families who never possessed documents in the first place. The devastating 6 February earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria has further exacerbated the humanitarian situation …

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Armed Groups and the Need for State Mechanisms to Account for the Dead

Deaths are an unfortunate yet expected occurrence in the context of armed conflict, whether of international or non-international character. Accounting for the dead due to hostilities or in other situations such as custodial deaths raises significant challenges if information about the deceased is not recorded or their remains not identified and collected. Not only could …

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Accessing Citizenship: Patterns of Civil Registration and Insurgent Conflict in India

Citizenship grants access to the rights enjoyed by all members of the political community of a given state. To claim these rights, citizens must be able to provide evidence of membership based on birth place and/or parentage. Yet, according to recent World Bank estimates, about 850 million people lack official documents such as birth certificates, ID …

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“Received with Thanks”: Understanding the role of receipts in political order in northeast India

Above is a receipt issued by one of the largest non-state armed groups in northeast India to the owner of a twelve-wheeled truck. The driver of the truck will carry the receipt with him at all times and show it at checkposts along the road where he will encounter this non-state armed group, amongst many …

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Armed Conflict is not the Only Emergency: Armed Groups, Climate Change and Emergency Governance

The reach of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years has been indiscriminate. The pandemic has swept throughout the world, from peaceful countries to countries embroiled in armed conflict and areas under the control of armed groups. Like States, some armed groups have responded to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic by imposing lockdowns, …

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